Chapter Forty Seven
“Everyone ready?” asked Gabe. He was ready to take charge again. It was his fault Emmie was in this situation and he was damned if he wasn’t going to save her.
They nodded. Grace, March and Chris all wore army uniforms and were ready. They wore their dog tag playing cards with pride. They stood alongside twelve other members of The Deck who also nodded in agreement.
Almost each member of the team was holding a gun with a blue disk on top. March was carrying a large backpack with the blue light from the helicopter.
“Remember,” said Gabe. “We are entering a civilian zone. You are not to use lethal force unless instructed by me. Is that understood?”
“Yes sir,” replied the team. They clicked a switch at the back of their guns which moved the blue disk into their weapon. “Using the latest data from March we’ve redesigned the blue light to stop anyone with orange eyes momentarily.”
“You each have a single clip of ammunition in case of an emergency. That’s thirty five bullets. If you are under threat from a hostile force you have my authorization, then you may switch to them but not before. Is that understood?”
“Jill?” said Gabe. “You’re in charge until I get back.”
Jill stood next to the remaining support staff of The Deck. They would provide technical aid throughout the mission. “Yes, sir,” she replied.
Gabe was ready to redeem himself. This was what he had trained for. What everyone had trained for. He knew it was a gamble but Emmie was far too important for him not to roll the dice and if the only way to ensure her safety was to risk the lives of every single one of his team then that was a risk he had to take.
“Good luck,” said Jill to everyone.
Gabe led them to a sealed door at the back of the base. He swiped a keycard and the double doors opened. Lights flickered on and revealed four large four-wheel-drive cars called Verro’s. “You can thank the boss for these,” said Gabe, thankful for his backer.
The members of the Deck looked on in disbelief. Verro’s were one of the many excesses of the ‘haves’ and a symbol of power and wealth. Their heavy weight and high top speed meant they consumed fuel faster than any other vehicle on the road, and made them extremely expensive to buy, due to heavy taxes, with high running costs.
Yet these cars had been modified with solar panels for The Deck, no doubt at great expense. Their large size also meant they completely took up a single lane on the road, and their wide wheels made them excellent all-terrain vehicles.
“You didn’t fancy something subtle?” asked Grace.
“We need strong vehicles that travel fast. You won’t find anything better,” replied Gabe, proud of each and every car.
Everyone loaded into a Verro. Gabe and Grace sat in one together, whilst Chris and March sat in separate vehicles. The four cars lined up in a row and slowly travelled up a ramp which emerged at the back of the shopping centre. They made their way around debris as the burger stand owner looked on in amazement.
Gabe drove his car at the front of the pack and the others followed behind him in a line. Each driver pressed a button on the dashboard which activated sirens. Gabe and his team put their feet down and headed towards London.
“Welcome to London,” said Rex.
I looked around at the once glorious capital city to see a very different world to the one in I’d seen in pictures. We stood on the bank of the River Thames where hundreds of boats had drifted on to one side and smashed into each other. The river itself was filled with rubbish and debris that was piled so high it seeped onto the streets.
The streets themselves were covered in litter and abandoned goods from the looting and rioting that had occurred during the 20 Day Siege. Many buildings were burned to the ground whilst others were unaffected such as the London Eye which stood looming in the sky, its white glistening pods a strange sight in a city that no longer had any wonders you’d want to see.
What surprised me most wasn’t the decay but the people we passed into the city. There was a community living in London just like the one in Smyth West. They had worked their way into abandoned buildings and created a shanty town of makeshift homes from any materials they could find. In this disaster zone it didn’t feel right.
Although London had been abandoned, people had returned here when they had nowhere else to go. The number of have-nots was growing and it seemed London was the only city that would have them.
“They won’t last long,” said Rex, noticing me looking at the people. “The 20 Day Siege ruined the city and it won’t change. The signal still exists in small quantities, it is building up inside them and they will die. They’re either so stupid they don’t know what is happening or just completely lost.”
I assumed it was the latter. The stories about London were well known. You’d have to be very desperate to return to this place. Everyone knew that death was inevitable here.
“Come on,” said Rex as he dragged me into the abandoned Houses of Parliament. “I want to show you something,” whatever it was I knew it was Tobias who really wanted me to see it.
We walked into the building. The four orange eyed men and I. Their eyes were still obscured by sunglasses. We entered a large hallway that was filled with fantastic works of art that ranged from picturesque scenes of royalty to horrific Dante inspired scenes of devilry that had been spray painted with messages from those who had been near death.
The hallway was filled with light from stained glass windows that showed images of Gods from religions that hadn’t saved this city when it needed them. We walked along a black and white marble floor that had become chipped and uneven. At the end of the corridor was a central room that had previously been used for parliamentary debates.
The room was an oaky brown colour with a dark green carpet that ran the length of it. Hundreds of seats lined the room with a central chair for a speaker to sit in a large gallery area that loomed behind them with large archways and further seating.
This room that had once helped decide many of the fates of the world was now filled not with politicians and political figures but with real people. The same people who had been left behind to die when the world changed, whilst the politicians had left this city to find new cities to dictate.
There was no debate occurring here, everyone agreed on one thing. They were all dying. You could see it in their bloodshot eyes, the paleness of their faces and the never ending coughs.
“Can’t you help them?” I asked.
“How? They chose to live here and the warnings were clear. You go into London and you die. It’s their own fault,” replied Rex with a coldness that he would never normally use.
Over fifty people sat in the room it was clear this was a quarantine zone. Their friends and families had abandoned them to save themselves. They were waiting for death now. The Separationists had done so much damage with their experiment those years ago and the on-going repercussions plagued this place.
I couldn’t stomach it any more. I saw a small brown eyed child, dressed in rags on the chair closest to me. He was crying and there was nothing I could do to save him. “Why are you showing this to me?” I asked.
“To show you what they are capable of. This can all happen again. I stopped it once and I can stop it again but I need your help.”
“Liar! The Deck told me you caused all of this,” I shouted. “I won’t help you.” I threw a hand towards Rex’s face and reached my other hand into his pocket. I removed an Innocent blocking device that I’d felt there in the car and activated it. A quiet sound emitted outwards and Rex and Rufus’ eyes turned back to normal.
The other two men stayed the same. “Why isn’t it working?” I asked.
The man with the knives replied. “We’re hard wired to the boss. There’s no way of stopping the connection now,” he ran towards me but Rufus stood in the way swinging his frying pan to keep him back. I couldn’t believe he’d kept it all this time. “Run!” he shouted.
Rex and I dashed to an ornate door at the end of the central chamber. It wasn’t the way we had entered but it was further away from our attackers. Rufus swung the pan hitting Vlad in the face. He grabbed his jaw and as looked back Rufus had begun fleeing away from him.
We reached the next room and slammed the door shut, pulling across a deadbolt to lock it behind us. Vlad hammered on the door and his brother then did the same. We walked backwards and saw a large knife pierce its way through the wooden door. The knife continued to chip away at the rapidly expanding void. We knew the door wouldn’t hold for long.
“Run,” shouted Rex and he ran as fast as his one lung would let him. We followed behind him hoping each new turn we took would lead us to safety.